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Bremen History, Germany

Bremen, a Hanseatic city in northwestern Germany, has been long ago made famous by the Brothers Grimm with their story about the Bremen Town Musicians. Bremen is one of the most important cities in Germany, and has been so since medieval times. Bremen has a rich history that spans over more than 1200 years. The city’s architecture, with its tall and narrow buildings and charming winding streets is a major point of interest. Thousands of tourists from Germany and abroad visit Bremen every year, and the city is now an important holiday destination not only due to its sights and cultural activities, but also its lively nightlife. This Bremen History Guide offers some basic information about the city’s exciting history.

Bremen History Guide - Foundation and Early History

At the beginning of the millennium, the site of modern-day Bremen was inhabited by a Germanic tribe, the Chauci. Contemporary Latin geographers mention Fabinarum, a settlement that is believed to be the precursor of Bremen. In the 3rd century AD, Saxon tribes settled in the region, and several hundred years later, during the 8th century Saxon Wars, the town was already known under the name of Bremen. The first bishop of Bremen was elected in 787. In 848, the diocese of Bremen merged with the diocese of Hamburg, thus forming a Christian alliance that contributed to the Christianization of Northwestern Germany for centuries to come. Bremen continued on a path of steady development, and in the 11th century, sturdy walls were built around the town to protect it from barbarian tribes. At the end of the 12th century, the king of Germany, Frederick I Barbarossa granted Bremen some important privileges, such as political independence, exemption from feudal laws. Despite these privileges, Bremen’s independence was still hindered by the influence of the Prince-Archbishops to whom the inhabitants were forced to pay large taxes. In 1260, the city joined the Hanseatic League, along many other cities including Hamburg, Hannover, Frankfurt etc.

Bremen History Guide - Late Middle Ages

In the late 14th century, the city council of Bremen started loaning money to the then Prince-Archbishop, Albert II, who needed to finance his extravagant life-style. In 1377, Bremen bought from the Duke of Brunswick-Luneburg several prince-archiepiscopal castles, thus gradually gaining independence from the Prince-Archbishop’s rule. By the 17th century, Bremen’s situation was more or less unchanged. The city continued to lend money and to be governed by the Prince-Archbishop, but his decisions were subject to the city’s will. As a free city, Bremen continued to flourish and to take advantage of its status within the Hanseatic League. In 1807, Bremen declared itself a free hanseatic city, and later on, in 1871, it became a federal state of the German Empire.

Bremen History Guide - Modern period

After World War I, the German Reich laid in shatters, and there were several attempts to rebuild it. Bremen and Bremenhaven were supposed to keep their independence, but under the rule of the Socialist Party, they lost their autonomy. Their status was regained in 1947, thanks to the American occupation. The Americans included Bremen among their bases of operation thanks to its strategic position, and after the war, helped it to become once again a federal state of West Germany. Nowadays, after the all of the Berlin Wall, Bremen is one of the most important cities in Germany, and a fantastic place to spend your holiday at.

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